It is an honour and a privilege to share this adventure with you. We have explored many areas of our humanity that help us feel more connected to our feelings (self) and each other (community). We have learned a lot. One thing is certain. Life is a constantly changing landscape of emotions and experiences. It is a fluid and fast-paced journey through suffering and surprises. And, despite the challenges that come with change, we are dedicated to living a life of love and meaning.
We meet here as a way of returning to, or descending into, a quiet space of reflection and contemplation. I believe that it is our humanness – our longing to live wholeheartedly – that keeps us coming back to this community and to our self-exploration.
What does wholehearted living mean to me?
For me, wholehearted living is being true to your inner, loving nature through a process of returning to your core (soul) values. In other words, when the outside world is noisy and chaotic, you are called to your inner self for rest and renewal. It’s like winter solstice for your soul. Wholehearted living is Soulstice for every season and situation!
What are my soul values?
Eight years ago, my husband, Hani, and I explored our core values. We asked each other, “what do you value above everything else to maintain your mental, physical and emotional health?” We pondered questions like, “what makes you feel most alive and strong?” and “what creates a foundation of love?” The answers revealed our deepest truths and the exercise was life-changing for us. Not only did we learn the truth about what we value, but we also committed to building a life based on what we call our “soul values”. Since that time, in an effort to live wholeheartedly, every decision we make, individually and together, is in alignment with our soul values.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that my soul values are joy, kindness, courage and calm! As you know, these value points are the foundation of my personal practice of connection and the theme of my children’s book, Your Heart Compass. My soul values provide a framework for me to maintain a wholehearted state of well-being. When I’m feeling “off” or depleted, I check in with my soul values. I ask myself, “What value is missing? What will help me return to my joyful heart? To my kind heart? To my brave heart? To my calm heart?”
How to “return” to your soul values
A quiet descent into your core is needed from time to time, especially when you are in a situation or mindset that is not serving your values. Old habits and traditions can build up hardened feelings around your heart and soul space. Finding ways to break through the solid layers of hardened feelings to get to the true nature of your soul takes practice.
In many cases, for me, there is an act of leaving (a situation) or changing direction (mindset shift) that is required to return to a feeling of wholeheartedness, or love. For example, if I am participating in a group (in person or online) that is contributing to negative behaviour or if I am in a mindset that is contributing to a negative output of emotions, then the negativity is my cue to leave and take pause. In the pause, I will check in with my whole self to ensure that my next move is in alignment with my soul values.
In my experience, the practice consists of a few things: self-awareness (knowing when the situation or mindset is not good for you), taking action (leaving), taking pause (going inward) and returning to your soul self (aligning your behaviour with your core values).
How you practice is up to you.
Practice tuning into your whole heart
As I learn more about the practice of “coming home” to your wholeheartedness, I discover that for many it means finding a way to honour your true feelings. There is a shedding of ego, a letting go of expectation, an emptying of “negative emotions” that happens. For many of us, this process happens in solitude. In a safe space that is free of others’ opinions and judgment. The process of letting go often comes through creative practices or quiet, meditative exercises. For some, it may be the practice of painting or writing that helps to release a flow of emotional energy. For others, it may be the practice of slow, repetitive breath movement (meditation) or body movement (tai chi) that helps create a peaceful flow of energy while pausing the conceptual flow of thoughts.
Whatever feels good for you is a good place to begin your practice. Once you have a practice, keep practicing!
Philosophers, researchers, poets, and teachers describe wholeheartedness in their own unique terms of living in a state of harmony between the inner world and the outer world. You can describe your wholehearted living and practice it in any way that feels right for you.
Here are some of my favourite teachers sharing their wholehearted way of living:
“Follow your bliss!” (Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero’s Journey)
“Experience the radiance in all things.” (Mark Nepo, author of Things That Join The Sea and The Sky)
“Return to your touch tree.” (Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed and host of the podcast We Can Do Hard Things)
These books offer great examples of wholehearted living. Even though we may have different ways of naming it or practicing it, we are all speaking the same love language and finding a way to our heart’s longing to live with love and purpose.
Winter solstice is coming up so I’d like to invite you to join me in practicing Soulstice! Let’s take time this season to go inward and honour our soul values, especially when we start to feel overwhelmed by the busyness of the holidays. Let’s break through feelings of bitterness and guilt (likely rising from expectations and traditions) to soften the space around our hearts. It isn’t easy to put yourself or your soul values first, but it is the way to wholehearted living.
Next time, we’ll explore rituals on the path to authenticity.
Let’s journey together.